I Act, Therefore I Am Parshat Pinchas

Are you feeling depressed? Then dance! Feeling lazy? Work! Angry? Smile! Hostile? Act friendly! These are not merely glib bits of advice when there is nothing better to say. Rather, they reflect a deep common wisdom that teaches us that our behavior influences our emotions. When we feel down in the dumps, the best thing… Read More

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Curse the Children of Israel

The use of comedy in Jewish storytelling is a very powerful tool for conveying the serious wisdom of our tradition. Often, the Torah introduces us to a wide range of colorful characters — intriguing men, women, and creatures — in order to infuse the stories of the Torah with wit and humor. These personalities have… Read More

The Paradox of the Red Heifer Ritual Parshat Chukat

The mystical ritual of the red heifer is a chok, a commandment we follow not because it is rational, logical or moral, but because it is Divinely ordained. The very notion of the priest purifying an individual who has been defiled by contact with a dead body, through the process of sprinkling him or her… Read More

Better They Learn from Me Parshat Korach

Conflict resolution is one of the most important tasks in human relations at every level. Open up any newspaper, and you will read of schoolchildren bullying each other, of married couples in bitter conflict, of political parties enmeshed in verbal warfare and of nations at war. What are some of the strategies available to foster… Read More

Our Ability to Accept

“And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite (Midianite) woman he had taken to wife (and divorced). And they said, ‘Did the Lord speak only to Moses? Did He not also speak to us?’” Toward the end of our biblical reading, we find this very strange dialogue between Miriam and Aaron, the… Read More

The Nazir and Narcissus Parshat Naso

Webster’s dictionary defines paradox as “a statement that is contradictory in fact and, hence, false.” In life, however, there are numerous paradoxes that are, strangely enough, not false at all. In religious life we find many such paradoxes, and one of them is to be found in the Torah portion that we read this week…. Read More

Importance of Heritage Parshat Behar-Bechukotai

This week’s parshah is a double portion, beginning first with Behar. It describes the Jubilee, a time every 50 years when property owners return to their leased land and, in turn, get it back. Some explanations for this law are that it was for economic fairness and for wealth being returned to those in need…. Read More

Words for the Next Generation Parshat Emor

When the rabbis divided the Torah into its 54 parshiyot, they generally arranged for each portion to begin with a unique or otherwise significant word that would in some way summarize major themes of the entire section. Such is the case for most of the portions we have studied in Leviticus — until we come… Read More